Scooter the dog was sitting forlornly in a shopping mall parking lot by a dumpster, with his leash tied to a tree and a note in front of him.
Many walked past him, but one woman, worried, leaned closer to see why this poor pup was sitting out here, all abandoned.
The note read: “Free Pup. Name is Scooter. Owner went to jail today.”
The woman and her cousin couldn’t let the matter go—Bianca Anahi Cushman took a photo and uploaded it to a Facebook group about lost pets in the area, hoping someone could help.
“It’s getting dark and I don’t want to leave him does anyone have any ideas please, I can’t keep the dog for the longterm.”
Paula Langford, the founder of South Eastern Homeless Animals (SEHA), saw the photos and wanted to help—she quickly got in touch.
“I just reached out to them and said, ‘I’ll take the dog,” Langford told The Dodo. “‘I have a microchip scanner, I’ll get him scanned and validate the story first. And then we’ll get him wherever it is that he belongs.”
That same day, Langford met up with Cushman to pick up Scooter, a 6-year-old terrier mix.
But as soon as Langford saw him, she knew there were details missing from his story. Langford has seen many abandoned dogs, and Scooter was not like them at all.
“As soon as I saw him, I knew this was a loved pet,” Langford said. “He was clean, he was flea-free. He was abandoned with an expensive carrying case for him, an expensive collar, a bag of grain-free dog food.”
“He wasn’t just a throwaway,” she said. Once she picked him up, he snuggled into her arms as if out of habit.
“He was a bit nervous, but very sweet and very loving,” Langford said. “He wanted to cuddle. It was kind of precious, because on the way home, he kind of laid his head on my chest and just did this big sigh, and kind of melted into me and went back to sleep.”
So Langford decided to do some investigating.
Eventually, she was able to track down the officer who arrested Scooter’s owner. She learned that the owner had been arrested in a Walmart parking lot not far from where Scooter had been found.
Then she learned that the owner never meant to abandon his dog.
“When he was arrested, his main concern was that his dog not go to the shelter, so he handed his belongings, his money, his backpack, his carrying bag, and his beloved dog to his friends and asked them to ensure that the dog was safe,” Langford said.
Instead, the friends left Scooter in the parking lot over, along with some of his owner’s things.
Langford shared the story on Facebook, thanking people who had helped try to find Scooter’s home, and had an official update. An arrest warrant was issued for the two people who purposely abandoned the dog.
But things ended well for Scooter.
Langford took him in temporarily and was able to get in touch with the owner’s mother, who agreed to take care of Scooter in her Nebraska home. But that would be a 1,400-mile, 24-hour drive for Langford.
Langford decided the road trip was worth it. It was emotional for her to say goodbye to the pup, but she had no doubt that now Scooter was exactly where he belonged.
“When an animal is found on the streets, the ultimate hope is that the animal has a loving family looking for them,” she said.
In many cases, the animals really do not have a home. But Scooter was loved and had a family waiting for him with open arms, and she wanted to make sure he would get there.
“It was a very touching and emotional reunion, and it was quite obvious that Scooter was very happy to see his family again,” Langford said. “I am 100 percent confident in my decision to reunite this beloved pup with his family.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of the article misstated the distance between South Carolina and Nebraska. Langford had to make a roughly 24-hour drive to reach Scooter’s family. Epoch Times regrets the error.